‘Ashes in the Snow’ Review: A Labor in Siberia | Modern Society of USA

‘Ashes in the Snow’ Review: A Labor in Siberia

‘Ashes in the Snow’ Review: A Labor in Siberia

Sometimes only a fine line separates tragic sweep from a movie that never comes to life as anything other than actors dressed in costumes, straining to inhabit an alien chapter of history.

The latest exhibit is the World War II drama “Ashes in the Snow,” adapted from Ruta Sepetys’s novel “Between Shades of Gray.” The director, Marius A. Markevicius, working from a screenplay by Ben York Jones, tells the story of a Lithuanian family swept up by Stalin’s army and sent to Siberia, first to a labor camp where farming is possible, then to the region’s deadly northern reaches.

Bel Powley stars as Lina, a promising young artist, and Lisa Loven Kongsli (from “Force Majeure”) as Elena, her mother. The Russian characters speak Russian and the non-Russians mostly speak English. While “Ashes in the Snow” is hardly the first film on this era to wrangle an international cast, the recurring issue of translation strains verisimilitude.

So do the actors, who often look out of place, although Markevicius can frame an effective shot of Powley’s face covered in dirt except for her wide eyes. Martin Wallstrom makes the largest impression as a half-Ukrainian soldier torn between sympathetic and violent impulses.

There are a few powerful images. Early on, Lina draws on a fogged window before seeing the headlights of approaching officers through the glass. Aboard the train to the first camp, Elena separates a grieving mother from the corpse of an infant that has died. The sheer horror stands out from a largely undifferentiated slog.

Source link